Lena Dunham: ‘I write under duress, often in my bed, often at the last minute’

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham. Oh Lena Dunham. I recently tried watching Girls out of sheer curiosity, and I didn’t even make it through one episode. I was still warming to Lena because she’s (like it or not) a woman in charge in Hollywood. I love that she tells the world to shove off when it comes to her body and standing up for herself. Lena sometimes comes off as entitled, but she was really growing on me.

Then Lena tried to deny being tight with Terry Richardson by saying she only knew him from one PR photoshoot. She conveniently neglected to mention how her BFF, Audrey Gelman, dated gross Terry for three years. Audrey tried to defend her best friend by tweeting that Lena “tried to see the good i saw in someone & we both have regrets.” There is no good in a creeper like Terry. I’d love to explore why a pretty, bright, and successful young lady like Audrey would shackle herself to Uncle Terry, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Lena sat down with Salon to promote the third season of Girls. Yep, she’s still the same girl who once said writing for money is “weird.” Let’s do this:

Why she’s a bit of an exhibitionist: “You know, it’s funny, I think part of inquiry into that kind of stuff started when I entered high school and went from being a really tiny kid to a chubby teenager and had to figure out how to handle that shift in my body. It’s interesting because I was looking at that transition and trying to figure out how to deal with my new body. It’s funny, I don’t know, maybe it’s a selfishness thing, but when there are only a few chairs or something, I’m never the person who is like, ‘I’ll stand.’ I always sit down, because I prize comfort highly.”

Her writing process: “I want so much to be someone who sees something and writes it down in their beautiful leather notebook. The fact is that I write under duress, often in my bed, often at the last minute. I’m kind of a binge writer I would say, which I don’t support. I was always kind of that way. Probably the time I was the most regular as a writer was college. It was like, what else is there to do when you’re living in the Midwest studying creative writing?”

“Now I have to really guard and cherish my writing time, because there are so many other demands on it. There’s what the show takes up, because the show has so many other aspects besides writing. There are a lot of other areas of interest for me, but writing time is where everything comes from. I have to make sure to be really careful with it. It’s hard for me. When I had other jobs, like when I was working in a clothing store, or I was a hostess, I had this weird schedule where I would work, come home, take a nap, then write from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., then go back to sleep. I basically figured out a schedule where I could have the strength to get something done at night.

“Now it’s harder for me to go in and out of various modes, so I have to set aside days where I’m like ‘I’m getting writing done today.’ Because a big part of it for me is being able to dawdle, or look at things on the Internet, or take a moment to answer six emails, or walk around a circle, or go out and read the newspaper. The day needs to hold enough space for all the other stuff that goes with writing. I would say that my writing comes from more of an emotional place than an ‘I’m in the street, I observe something, and I get an idea’ place. I wish that I had more of that. That’s like where more of my tweets come from, which is a bummer. I’m hoping that it can evolve with age, as all things do.”

On Twitter: “I feel like I miss a little bit the old — I mean it was kind of pre my career — but the idea that you made something, you put out a book or you put out a movie, and then you went into hibernation. You had your experience of preparing to put the next thing into the world. And that doesn’t exist, because people are blogging and tweeting. I often find on Twitter that I just want to tweet about SNL. I don’t want to tweet, ‘I wrote this. Go read it.’ It’s an interesting conundrum. But I also feel like my writing can always serve as a place to go back to. It is really comforting. I feel like in bad times or good it is a safe space to enter. It’s easy to forget that, but it’s consistently true. I feel lucky always to have that medium, which is as private as you want it to be and is affordable.”

She’s always asked about feminism & her body: “If you don’t get exhausted about talking about yourself and your work, then you’re a monster.”

Her book is coming: “I’m almost done. I’m spending another two weeks on it, and then it goes to copyediting. I just saw some covers. I’m actually reading at Carnegie Hall tonight. The book has been a joy to write and a completely different experience than making the show.”

This part is weird: “There’s a piece of my book about letting guys sleep in your bed. You’re not sleeping with them, just letting them sleep in your bed and what that is. It’s really interesting, because I’ve done a lot of that in my day. And now the idea of someone sleeping in my bed with me who I’m not sleeping with is literally my worst nightmare. I’m like, ‘I cherish my sleep. I worked hard for my bed.'”

[From Salon]

That last excerpt really throws me off. I was actually nodding my head at a lot of this interview, and then Lena said her worst nightmare is “literally” someone else sleeping in her bed. She’s either exaggerating for effect or misusing “literally” when, as a writer, she should know better.

Anyway, this interview makes me identity a bit more with Lena. I try not to write from bed, but I’m doing so right now because it’s New Year’s Eve, dammit! Plus there’s a cute dog on my lap who doesn’t want me to move. (Excuses, excuses.) I can see where people would take issue with Lena claiming to write “under duress.” Some writers need a deadline to hop into action, but her word choice makes her sound like she’s “forced” to make millions by toiling away.

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

Photos courtesy of WENN

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39 Responses to “Lena Dunham: ‘I write under duress, often in my bed, often at the last minute’”

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  1. meme says:

    ick. cannot stand her.

    • Latisse says:

      Oh man, you think this is bad, I read the whole article over at Salon, the amount of pretension squeezed into one “space” is actually kind of hilarious. She kept talking about “space”.

      How brave it was for her to occupy “space”, how hard it was to take up “space” the same way men do. How she was happy that the interviewer’s questions existed in a different “space” than the norm. After a while I wanted to cut in and say: I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

      Seriously, the entire interview was like that and the interviewer was blowing SO MUCH SMOKE up her butt. Anyway it’s a great read if you’re ever in need of a long, hard laugh.

  2. Dani says:

    Go away. Make it stop. Every time she speaks I want to pull my hair out. Pretentious much?

    • Inconceivable! says:

      Yes! And if writing for money is “weird” and she writes under duress. She CAN quit….anytime!

  3. JM says:

    I too tried sitting through a couple of episodes of “Girls”. Couldn’t stand it. Just wanted her character to shut. the. eff. up. Actually wanted ALL of the characters to do that – especially her sister!!!

    • Erinn says:

      I found out Roy from the IT crowd was on it. And I’m so torn because I love Christ O’dowd but I can’t bring myself to watch.

  4. Kaya says:

    I like her. She may be a bit strange sometimes, but everyone has those quips, and they are nothing to write home about. Criticizing her is so pointless because there isn’t anything to scream about.

    It’s forgivable if she was associated with Terry Richardson at one point. Everyone makes mistakes. We can’t hold them accountable for it forever – that’s not our problem. I think she chooses not to re-live that part of her life by pretending it was nothing, because if she really regrets it, she wouldn’t really appreciate people continuously bringing it up. It’s sorta like, “Yes, I made a mistake; can we move on now? I’d rather not talk about it.”

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  5. V4Real says:

    “Lena Dunham: ‘I write under duress, often in my bed, often at the last minute”

    I’ve seen a couple of episodes and it shows that you actually do. It’s horrible.

    • Tapioca says:

      Yep. And Lena, please don’t feel like you have to continue doing so on my account – I’d be fine with a 30-40 year gap between series…

  6. MelissaMelissa says:

    I’ve always gotten a sense that because Lena Dunham is considered “average” by gross Hollywood standards, we must accept her and be a fan otherwise we’re agreeing to Hollywood and quite frankly what they say is the world’s obsession with skinny women; as if there are some personality flaws that you can only have based on your size, whatever it may be. You’re skinny, you’re a bitch, you’re average, you’re great, you’re plus-size, you’re confident.

    But even if Lena says the right things sometimes, I’m still not a fan of hers. I cannot relate to her show and funny enough I’m a 21-year-old millenial. I’m supposed to be her target audience, the girl that roots for her. Part of me does because I want to see more women in charge in Hollywood or everywhere else for that matter.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Zzzzzzzzzzz…..oh, I’m sorry, were you talking to me?

  8. Chrissy says:

    Is she still dating Jack Antonoff from the band Fun? I’d look it up but I’m lazy and don’t wanna give this pretentious tw-t the Google hits.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      The Rick Moranis lookalike?
      Had no idea they dated..

    • Patricia says:

      I think so, she has pics of him on her Instagram, which I hate-view on occasion. It makes me mad because he is a TRUE talent and very unique, I can’t believe he was taken in by her schtick.

  9. Nanz01 says:

    I’m JUST LIKE Lena. Never thought I’d write those words. “I’m kind of a binge writer I would say.” I wrote nearly the same sentence in a graduate essay I had to write about my writing process. I used the word “binge” for sure. I can totally relate to wanting to be the kind of writer who writes down ideas in a beautiful leather-bound notebook (I have one! And about a billion regular ol’ notebooks). But my reality is ‘avoid, avoid, avoid’ until the last minute and then write under a hot deadline.

  10. Jenna says:

    I’ve tried, but I just can’t make it through a whole episode of Girls. It just seems the worst combo of self-indulgent women acting like self-entitled twits, and I try to limit my rage-watching these days. But I can’t give her too much crap about the deadline dodging writing – most of my best work was handed in after a desperate last second run. Last time I submitted a piece of poetry I won first place and had to sit for hours listening to the board ‘explain’ my poem to a room of people and how it should such strength and open honesty. Considering I thought it was the biggest pile of steaming trite crap I’d ever written, dashed off in under 5 minutes, and the only overriding meaning behind it was “Crap, if I don’t at least submit something I will fail the class” it was kind of horrifying and embarrassing to sit through. Sometimes a person just does better under massive amounts of pressure. The papers I worked for weeks on usually got B’s but the ones written mere hours before handing in always, to my frustration, got A’s.

  11. Tiffany says:

    As a native of the midwest, I would like to say ‘Bitch, please’. You could have stayed on the east coast for school and chose not. I am tired
    of uninformed people thinking of our area as flyover country.

  12. Kt says:

    I do not think it’s right to judge her for staying true to a friend who is dating someone awful. You can’t change people’s minds when it comes to love but you can stick by them and be a good friend. I’ve found that eventually, people see the light. As far as all these comments go, why do you all get on here to say you hate her? If you hate someone DON’T CLICK ON A LINK ABOUT THEM!!

  13. eliza says:

    All I can say is those teeth are hideous. Brush those things!

  14. Bella Bella says:

    KT, we do it because it is fun and we are all terrible people.

  15. Sullivan says:

    She has pretty eyes.

  16. Evi says:

    She is yet another overrated rich kid who made it due to her family wealth and contacts.

  17. Amy Tennant says:

    Looking at pictures of Lena Dunham serves as a reminder to me to stand up straight.

  18. Rachael says:

    I get it. Someone I’m not sleeping with sleeping in my bed gives me a total panic attack. It’s weird. It’s to intimate for someone I’m not intimate with. I’m with Lena.

  19. Livan says:

    I really really love Girls! Cannot wait for the next season! Lena’s Hannah is supposedly auto-biographic (?). She is annoying as hell, but that IS what I love!

  20. gaggles says:

    In what universe is this audrey gelman girl supposed to be bright and successful? I read that entire piece and I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what exactly it is she does for stringer. Seriously WHAT DOES SHE DO??? Because all her duties sound like something I could do and I sound like I’d be overqualified considering I have two degrees and she’s a college dropout.

    Is she his aide? How did she land that position? Oh wait I forgot her parents are new york professionals one’s a microbiologist and one’s a psychologist. Silly me. She has connections. And all these connections are blowing smoke up her butt. They like her because she’s connected and wears high fashion and is into social media….WTF??!!!

    I”m sorry but this only further confirms what I’ve always thought about Lena Dunham. She is overinflated and held up to be this amazing role model and writer and woman etc etc etc. When it’s all just media hype by a bunch of sycophantic social climbers. What this audrey gelman girl does sounds overinflated as well. She’s a modern girl because she’s posing in her intimates and then working the campaign trail with social media??? Seriously??????!!!!!

    It’s just a bunch of privileged rich kids who think they are god’s gift to morality, politics, science, and art. You both should be ashamed with your association to Richardson. Obviously he brought BOTH of you fame.

    I’m sorry but that audrey gelman article was just rage inducing. This girl is nothing special and yet she’s made out to be the Mona Lisa or a Hilary Clinton 2.0.


    seriously wtf???? She’s known more for her fashion then she is for anything else.

  21. Mel says:

    Bleck. I hate when celebs answer questions with “you know, it’s funny blah blah blah”.

  22. GeeMoney says:

    Interesting how most people on this site hate ‘Girls’, because I think Lena Dunham is a good writer and the first season of that show was hysterical. Perhaps her snarky, sarcastic writing doesn’t suit most people, but I think she’s pretty damn good at what she does.

    Season 2 of the show was meh, so I’m hoping that she hits it out of the park for Season 3.

  23. kellyinseattle says:

    Wish she d go sit inthe cor er for awhile

  24. T. Fanty Fan says:

    I enjoy how many people here do not care for Lena as I have never been able to stand her for over two minutes.

  25. MyCatLoves TV says:

    It was raining and HBO ran both seasons of Girls back to back to back. I just wanted to see what the buzz was about. What a bunch of unlikable people! Especially Lena Dunham. I actually rooted for her to fail. I have never wanted to slap somebody in the mouth as much as I did this horror of a woman. Maybe that is the point.

    Next time it rains I will watch back to back to back episodes of Law and Order – SVU instead. Christopher Meloni, yes!

  26. lucy2 says:

    I watched season 1, and didn’t care for it, so I stopped. I’m very happy a woman is writing and directing and creating, and I think we need more of that and it’s good she’s doing it. But I just can’t stand the show and I find her very annoying. I’m not looking forward to the media wave that will come with the next season.

  27. skeptical says:

    some people try to tell me that lena intends her show to make fun of prissy nepotisim princesses. But if that were true, we’d have a normal character for contrast. Like how Cordeila and Buffy contrasted each other during the first few seasons. Also, Cordelia grew up. These girls don’t. They are just plain unlikeable.
    I doubt lena has enough self-awareness to realize that she is a Princess Nepotism too. She’s too busy being lauded as the voice of a generation. Like somehow her tiny slice of society is representative of every woman’s experience in her age group. She has no idea what it’s like to really start at the bottom. As that joke nepotism poster said, she was born on third and thought she hit a triple. Sometimes it feels like she’s reinforcing bad stereotypes of women and women directors.


  28. Vodkette says:

    Thank god, finally, some honest feedback about Lena. Glad to know that other people feel the same way I have since day 1…..never understood the hype about her, and HATE that depressing show. Just watched Frances Ha, and clearly the same people who liked that horrible boring film are the same circle jerks who kiss the ring of Lena. Typical NY “Emperor’s new Clothes” scenario.

  29. homegrrrral says:

    My highbrow counter culture mom asked why I watched girls. I told her I get an hopeful sparkley feelings when the fat chick gets laid every episode.